TEAM Wellness & Prevention News
Stay informed of what is happening at TEAM and in the Northern Colorado community surrounding all things health, wellness, and prevention.
Thompson Teens United
By Meg Keigley- Youth Education Specialist
Would you believe that 94% of Loveland & Berthoud high schoolers have not used Marijuana in the past month? Although this statistic is true, teens often think their peers engage in risky behaviors more frequently than they actually do. Team is currently working with a group of youth in southern Larimer County to expose the reality of youth substance use through the Thompson Teens United campaign. By showing teens that the majority of their peers are not using substances we aim to help youth see that the “norm” in high school is to stay substance free.
The youth behind Thompson Teens United are currently working on a traveling mural project to spread the word about this campaign. Check out this video to see the exciting work they are doing and to see what teens are saying about why they stay substance free!
By Sarah Allison- Evaluation Director
There is nothing better than sitting down with a well-organized spreadsheet and a cup of tea on a beautiful Monday morning. Actually, the spreadsheet thing might just be me. Nevertheless, we here at TEAM do love to see the impacts of our programs that we determine from all of that lovely data.
This month, I am thrilled to present some of the great impacts our Define and Engaging Families programs have had on Larimer County youth. Both programs take place over 10 weeks and utilize the Brainwise curriculum, a comprehensive program that provides the essential tools to help individuals make good decisions and take control of their lives by teaching essential emotional, social, and cognitive skills – referred to as the “10 Wise Ways.” Youth in our programs take a pre-test and a post-test to determine their skill gain in each of the Wise Way areas and their overall social-emotional improvement.
From pre-test to post-test, we have seen a statistically significant improvement (p<.05) within the overall social-emotional scores from the youth. This means that the efforts of our program staff have resulted in the impartment of key skills and knowledge to the youth they serve which will provide them with the social-emotional knowledge necessary to thrive.
Let’s take a few minutes to dive into the data and break down some of the key skills, or “Wise Ways”, that our youth are mastering in our programs. All questions on the evaluation have scores ranging from 1-5 with higher values indicating a greater mastery of the skill. We have seen statistically significant improvement (P<.05) in all of the following skills necessary for social-emotional health.
“Use your Wizard Brain over your Lizard Brain”
Our program staff teaches youth how to stop and think through awareness of their emotional, or “Lizard,” brain and their thinking, or “Wizard,” brain. Learning about the different biological parts of the brain, youth are better equipped to make positive and healthy decisions throughout their adolescent life. Through our programs, we have seen scores in this area continually improve!
“Recognize Red Flag Warnings”
Learning to understand their own internal emotional cues and their external physical responses is vital for youth to navigate through daily struggles without making unhealthy choices to cope. Our staff works closely with their students throughout their 10 weeks to give youth a cognitive structure to think about these internal and external “red flags” so that they can self-moderate their own feelings and behaviors in the future. Our results show that students feel more aware of their red flags at the end of the program.
“Consider the Consequences of your Choices NOW and LATER”
As youth grow into early adulthood, understanding both the short and long term consequences of their actions is a key skill to navigate all of the difficult decisions they face ahead. We have seen significant improvement in their area in our youth, demonstrating their increased understanding of how their actions affect both themselves and others over time.
“Set Goals and Form an Action Plan”
Once youth have mastered their understanding of their physical brain, emotions, and the consequences of their actions, they begin to learn about goal-setting and forming action plans to achieve those goals. Our program staff teach this strategic problem-solving process because we know that youth who are able to make positive decisions are less likely to struggle with substance abuse. Our impact on these scores is a great demonstration of the efforts and effectiveness of all of our program staff.
“Communicate Effectively Using ‘I’ Messages”
Both verbal and non-verbal communication are of vital importance for social-emotional wellbeing and for any young person to feel fully in control of their life. We want the youth of Larimer County to make lasting social connections and be able to communicate calmly to solve problems. The improvement of our youth in this area is an exciting testament to the long-term impact our programs may have on their lives.
Youth Leading the way in southern larimer county prevention efforts
by Adam Musielewicz- Coalition Director
It is one of the fundamental components of Positive Youth Development (PYD); engage young people as partners and include their voice in matters that concern them and their peers. For over 2 years now, Team has convened a community based prevention effort in Southern Larimer County (Southern Larimer Prevention Partnership) and the Youth Advisory Commissions (YAC) of both Loveland and Berthoud have be instrumental partners in the work of preventing youth alcohol, marijuana, and opioid use.
In the beginning of the 2017-2018 academic year, both YAC’s came together with the shared purpose of engaging their peers on the issue of substance use, specifically around the perception of their peers using drugs. A common theme throughout the State is that youth perceive their peers using drugs much more than they actually report. This reinforces the norm that drug use is acceptable. However, when viewed through a positive lens (how many youth are not using!), the norm can shift.
Thus, the YAC groups, in coordination with Team Wellness staff have begun implementing a positive youth social norms campaign in their communities. In short, the youth are engaging their peers around the positive norm and supporting data that most youth are not using drugs (it’s true!). The recipe: 1) use social media to engage youth about perceptions and start the conversation, 2) plan activities - such as a traveling mural to Berthoud and Loveland HS, to engage youth within their school communities, and 3) coordinate with other school groups to more broadly create a positive, drug free culture.
Programming for Prevention
By Aubrie Hartnell- Program Director
For 28 years, TEAM has focused solely on prevention. Our efforts have included education, skill building, campaigns, coalition-building, and advocacy, all with the emphasis on preventing substance abuse and emphasizing healthy decision making. Now, we have launched a treatment program called Rebound. Since we are historically known as a prevention-minded organization, people may wonder “Why the expansion? Why treatment?”
The answer of two-fold. First, with the local need regarding substance abuse and mental health issues, we can’t afford NOT to serve our community in this capacity. We recognize that treatment services are limited and truly believe in affecting change across the substance abuse spectrum. As a licensed OBH treatment provider, our Rebound program serves clients facing Minor in Possession (MIP), Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI), Driving Under the Influence (DUI), and other substance-related judicial charges. By serving the lower level treatment needs, our community partners are able to focus more of their energy on clients with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders or deep-rooted addictions.
Second, our Rebound program is a social enterprise project for TEAM. Despite the return on investment of substance abuse prevention services, the reality is that funding opportunities are much more limited for prevention as opposed to treatment. By emerging into the treatment realm, we have the opportunity to concurrently impact members of our community who are struggling and fund the prevention work that we do.
For more information on Rebound, check out www.reboundteam.org
Lessons from Engaging Families
By Jane Wilson- Parent Engagement Specialist
Three Things I Have Learned from the Engaging Families Initiative.
As I approach my first year serving as TEAM’s Family Engagement Specialist, I have seen how powerful community collective effort can be, and I am so proud to be a part of it. The Engaging Families Initiative is a parent and family skills-building program intended to build positive family relationships through social-emotional learning. We use the BrainWise curriculum to teach parents and kids strategies to increase critical thinking skills, manage emotions, and build resiliency. By learning the same curriculum at an appropriate developmental level, families can use a common language in the home and grow together. On paper, the initiative sounds like a big endeavor (and it is!) but as I have seen it in action, here are three things I have learned.
1. It takes a village.
A lot goes into planning and hosting an Engaging Families program series and I have been blown away by the generosity and dedication of school and community organization staff as well as volunteers from the community. They willingly give their time to provide a fun and engaging program series where parents and kids can learn simultaneously.
2. Social-Emotional Learning is the future.
Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) includes a multitude of skill development – from making responsible decisions to maintaining positive relationships. As parents and their kids learn these tools together, they not only strengthen their bond but they help each other reinforce important skills.
3. The first step in seeking support is knowing where to find it.
TEAM’s staff is committed to our community and we want to be a resource for families. If you are interested in learning more about the Engaging Families program series, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
RAR HOPPING ALL YEAR LONG!
By Nathan Dewey- RAR Program Specialist
TEAM Wellness & Prevention is proud to announce the official launch of our monthly RAR Hopping event, under our Responsible Association of Retailers (RAR) program. It is our newest event to promote and highlight the relationship between the RAR member and our organization, as well as our combined efforts in providing and creating a safer community. Each member of RAR adheres to a high standard of ethics and is committed to the stewardship of responsibility within our community. RAR Hopping is a way we can give back to the RAR member for their support of what we are doing here at TEAM Wellness & Prevention.
The events are going to feature RAR members who have been in support of us for a long time or are new and eager to help out. RAR Hopping will not only bring attention to the RAR membership, but we will also be providing activities such as trivia, comedy nights, bingo, game nights and much more, We will also be using this as an opportunity to showcase the good work we are doing, while raising some money for our continued efforts in the community. Each RAR Hopping event will be held during the last week of each month and will usually take place on either a Tuesday or Wednesday evening. We invite you to come and join the fun, while supporting a responsible establishment and a very good cause.
Prevention vs. Enforcement
By Gordon Coombes- Executive Director
It was supposed to be a small introductory buy. Our unwitting informant wasn’t able to keep up with our demands and thus made a call to a guy who could. That call lead to another call and that call was picked up on a wiretap being run by our DEA liaison. Now, here I sat, waiting on the couch in a small two bedroom duplex. Our recently flipped informant on one side of me. A Lieutenant from a major drug organization on the other side. My new Lt. “friend” was was eager to demonstrate that he was armed, conspicuously displaying his nickel plated .45 caliber Colt pistol that was tucked into his waistband. My only comfort was that in a nearby bedroom there were four heavily armed and trained officers ready to storm into the room should things get ugly. I remember looking up at the small clock radio stationed oddly on the top large rear projection TV that filled the small living room. The camera hidden inside streamed the action to the safety officers in the bedroom.
Before long, the Lieutenant's errand boy and translator returned from the store. All four of us gathered in the kitchen and the two very seasoned drug traffickers went to work wrapping my 6 ounces of cocaine in cling wrap, coffee grounds and motor oil in preparation for my storied "trip" to Rawlins, Wyoming. I couldn’t help but think that this was a scene right out of any of many movies about the US drug trade. It was obvious that my new friends were enthusiastic to have a new soldier working under their wings, supplying what they thought was south central Wyoming. Over the course of the next 30 minutes I became tutored on the finer points of drug trafficking from these experts, I negotiated a multiple kilogram buy and gained a better understanding of the business side of the drug trade. Like a group of businessmen in a conference room or in a boardroom, we discussed profit margin, supply chain management, marketing strategy, and distribution networks. Not being formally educated in business administration, I soaked up the lesson both for my undercover role and unknowingly for my future profession in the legitimate business world.
The lessons learned from this and many other surreal experiences in my time working narcotics at the Larimer County Drug Task Force was that the drug business in the USA is just that, a business. As with any industry, if there is a demand for a product, there always will be those who are more than willing to profit from the supplying that demand, illegal or not. Additionally, if there is a overwhelming demand for a product and that demand results in billions of dollars in profit, no barrier, no fence, no enforcement, and certainly no wall will prevent enterprising organizations from profiting from that demand. That is why I now serve as the Executive Director of TEAM Wellness & Prevention. I firmly believe that until we, as a country, impact the demand for illegal drugs there will always be those willing to break the law to supply them to those struggling with addiction.